How to give (and get) great referrals

We all have needs, and lots of them! Whether it’s someone to build your website, find a new apartment or color your hair, you want to find the perfect person for the job with as little research as humanly possible (that last bit might just be me).

As small business owners and freelancers, word of mouth referrals are an important way to build relationships, increase and strengthen our network and get more jobs.  

At the beginning of the year, I made the commitment to network more and subsequently joined BNI. One of the many reasons was because they meet every week without fail, so I knew it would keep me on track. The other was their proven track record of building business through word of mouth referrals.  The philosophy is “Givers Gain” because when we give, it always comes back, one way or another.

But just like everything else, making a great referral is something of an art form. Here’s are some things I learned along the way:


1) Make it about them, not you
Who doesn’t love to bask in the glow of a match well made?  The prospect of having two people feel really good about you can be intoxicating, so before you bang out an email introduction, stop and ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Is your contact ready to buy, are they doing research, or is it a barely formed thought in their head?
  • Does your contact fit the client profile of the person you’re referring them to?  For example: your friend is a struggling writer. You know a coach that would be perfect him, but their packages start at $2,000.  Unless your writer friend has a trust fund you don’t know about, you’re wasting both people’s time by making the introduction  
  • Does the person you’re referring actually want help?  Has the struggling writer expressed that he’s looking for help with his writing career, or are you projecting?  If you make an introduction and someone’s not looking, things can get pretty awkward, pretty fast.


2) Craft the perfect introductory email
Based upon your answers to those questions, reach out to both people separately and ask if they’d be interested in being introduced to the other person.  If they both agree, you can go about crafting an email that everyone will thank you for.

Here’s how:

  • Describe what the person does, who they do it for and why they’re different.
  • Talk them up. It’s hard to brag about our own accomplishments, but it’s always nice when someone else does.
  • Outline why you think they should connect
  • Add any relevant credibility factors e.g. experience, education
  • Include a link to their website/LinkedIn profile or attach a visual element that might entice.
  • Offer to facilitate further, should it be required.

Want to see it in action? Check out this awesome introduction my friend and stylist, Tania Sterle made on my behalf:  


What’s new? Did you ever have that meeting with the Rock Star Photographer? I just wanted to share with you I met this amazing woman – and immediately thought you 2 should meet.

She’s a Pisces, a red head, and has the most delightful bubbly personality (and no it’s not me!-Lol). She’s British, yes infectious British accent and all!

Her name is Justine Clay and She works with Creative Professionals like yourself to take their business to the next level: by analyzing your strengths and challenges and creates a supportive plan for growing your business and attracting the clients that really excite you.

She is formerly a photo rep and she is coaching a few clients who are photographers-so I thought there was such a synergy- I thought you 2 should connect.

Are you interested in meeting her? She starts with a simple consult. Let me know I’ll make an email intro. Here’s her website

How’s that for an amazing introduction? As a result, I had a great meeting with Tania’s friend and we started working together shortly thereafter.


3) Follow up
Let both people know that you’re going to make the match and then check in with both parties a week or so later and make sure they connected.  It’s the equivalent offering to take your guest’s coat and get them a drink when you’re hosting a dinner party. It shows you care!

Who would you love to meet (aside from George Clooney)? Post your answer on my Facebook page. You never know who might know that person and be willing to make an introduction!

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